Woman or girl who has left her country of origin in order to seek international protection. 

Additional notes and information

May have formally applied for status as a refugee without yet having been recognised as such by the applicable national asylum body, or, alternatively, she may not yet have applied for status by submitting her claim.

The term ‘asylum-seeker’ is not defined under any international legal instrument and is subject to definition by national law. Although the granting of refugee status is the prerogative of the state, subject to some exceptions, refugee status is declaratory rather than determinative: that is, persons do not become refugees because of recognition, but they are recognised because they are refugees. Not every woman seeking asylum will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee woman is initially an asylum-seeker.


(1) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees − UNHCR (2006). Master Glossary of Terms Rev.1.

(2) European Council (2004). Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted.

(3) CEDAW Committee (2014). General Recommendation No 32 on the gender related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women.